Giant warehouse ready to open for business
A MASSIVE warehouse in Avonmouth that will employ almost a thousand staff has opened for business just in time for the busy Christmas period.
The £22-million warehouse which will keep around 500 Co-operative stores in the South West and South Wales stocked will operate 24 hours a day right around the year.
The Co-op decided to press ahead with the plan to open the new warehouse following its £1.5-billion takeover of the Bristol-based supermarket chain Somerfield.
The Co-op closed a smaller warehouse in Bridgwater in Somerset and has moved to Avonmouth so its distribution hub is in a more central location and closer to the M4 and M5 motorway network.
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Senior managers from the Co-op will be in Avonmouth on Friday for the official opening along with politicians and civic leaders.
Guests include Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West, Graham Sims, chief executive of Bristol City Council, and Dr Doug Naysmith, former Labour MP and Avonmouth councillor.
Pupils from St Bernard's Catholic Primary School in Shirehampton will bury a time capsule to commemorate the launch of the depot.
The 435,750 square foot is now ramping up but will not be fully operational by May 2013, when it will employ around 900 staff.
The warehouse will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serve almost 500 Co-operative food stores in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Wales area, and at its peak it will deliver around 1.2 million cases per week.
Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-operative Food, said: "Our new composite distribution centre is a major investment, which will provide significant employment locally and will boost the local economy.
"Avonmouth is in the perfect location to serve our stores across the South West and South Wales, and is the latest major investment in our logistics network.
"The new depot is vital in ensuring our food stores throughout the region continue to give Co-operative customers the high level of product availability and service they expect and I am delighted to be opening this new depot."
The Co-operative Group's distribution centre in Avonmouth is part of a major overhaul of its food distribution network following the takeover of Somerfield in 2009.
The overhaul has been designed to upgrade existing facilities, improve supply chains and help stores to improve their service.
The new warehouse has been designed to be as eco-friendly as possible and includes rainwater harvesting to reduce water demand on site and energy-saving lighting, which will provide a 60 per cent decrease in energy costs.
Mr Murrells added: "The Co-operative Group's logistics service has undergone a major overhaul in recent years to keep pace with the significant growth of the food business. This investment will mean we have an efficient and modern logistics network, while also allowing for further growth."